August 19, 2015

ARC REVIEW: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1)

Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1), by Abbi Glines
Publish Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: upper YA contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

So, this was me during my reading of UNTIL FRIDAY NIGHT:

Sure there was football games, mean girl throw downs, teenage boy pissing contests, and underage drinking at Friday night field parties. But, underneath all that is a story about a boy who just wasn't ready to say goodbye to his dying father and the girl who helped him do that. 

In the beginning of Until Friday Night, West is not a nice guy. He treats his girlfriend, his teammates and the new girl Maggie pretty badly. But, we know that he is acting that way to hide the extreme amount of pain and stress he's under as he watches his father slowly waste away at home from cancer, and his mother's inability to deal with it. It makes his douchetastic behavior a little bit more palatable. 

And then there's Maggie. She sent her father to prison for murdering her mother, and after that, the sound of her own voice was so abhorrent to her that she decided that not speaking was a better way to deal with the pain she was feeling. It was her survival mechanism - If she couldn't speak, then people wouldn't ask her to talk about what happened that night, and there was no way she wanted to relive it. 

Poor Brady gets saddled with showing around his mute cousin, and you could tell he was really not happy about that. What 18-year-old senior and star quarterback would be? He has an image to maintain, girls to woo, friends to joke around with. But, despite his lack of enthusiasm for having to drag Maggie around everywhere, you could also catch glimpses of the concern he had for her. He warned all his friends away from her. He helped her out, even when she told him not to. She was family, and ultimately, Brady has a good heart. 

Despite trying to stay away from her, West is drawn to Maggie - especially after he learns about why she doesn't speak. West had resolved to not tell anyone in town about his dad, so he's been dealing with the inevitability of losing a parent all by himself. All of a sudden, he sees Maggie as a kindred spirit - someone who understands the pain and loss and heartache he's experiencing. And, Maggie just knows that West needs for her to offer him comfort and support. And so, she speaks to him. And only him. 

I loved Maggie's and West's secret relationship. Although they professed it was just a friendship, it was obvious from go that it was more than that. But, I think neither one wanted to push something more on the other when both were dealing with so much. Noble, yes, but impractical. You spend so much time with one another and share so many deep and meaningful thoughts and experiences together, it's inevitable that the relationship would move beyond friendship. And, when it does, it definitely complicates matters. 

West and Maggie get to a place where they have to ask themselves if they're together for the right reasons. It's a good question, and one that takes a lot of stones to ask. But, it was a turning point in the book, and one that caused me to cheer a little bit. 

I loved Maggie's relationship with her aunt, uncle and cousin. I thought they were amazing people, and I was so glad we got lots of time with all of them - especially Brady. I hope there's a book for him coming up in this series. I really need more Brady time. 

The only set-back for me was the fact that it seemed like there were a few unfinished story lines. Or, maybe we'll get to those in future books. But, at the end of the book, West's mom was acting weird, and I suspect I know why, but it was never talked about. And, there was something mentioned at the end that had to do with Maggie's dad that absolutely intrigued me, but was never brought up again. 

Until Friday Night is told in dual POV, which is good since Maggie doesn't speak for the first third of the book. Being in her head is pretty necessary if we want her take on things. And you do - trust me. Maggie is wise beyond her years when it comes to some things and painfully innocent when it comes to others. Although this book is classified as YA, I would move it toward the upper end. There's language (as is to be expected from 18-year-olds) and sex, but most of that is pretty glossed over. 

I suspect it is West's teammate Gunner's story that will be the subject of the next book. It's introduced briefly, and that teaser was done nicely. It was woven into Maggie and West's story well, and I got just enough of a glimpse to make me eager to learn more. I can't wait Until Friday Night rolls around again!

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